Australian cricket selectors have once again confused the Australian cricketing public with an astonishing announcement of the 2011 World Cup squad. There has been backlash on talk back radio, with cricket fans all over Australia, unable to understand the mindset of such selections. It seems, that once again, if you’re not in the group of players liked by the national selectors, then you’re a longshot to make the squad, regardless of form.
We have seen many examples of this over the years, including Dean Jones in the early 90s, making hundred after hundred for Victoria (including a triple century), and now with Brad Hodge doing the same, and these players are unable to make the team, when clearly they are in the top echelon of, not just Australian cricketers, but world cricketers.
Xavier Doherty finds himself extremely unlucky, missing out of a place in the top 15 players, when he has just played a One Day International (ODI) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) against England. So he can make the current team, but cannot make the best 15 players in the country? Instead he is replaced by test discard, Nathan Hauritz, who hasn’t played for Australia since his poor performances in India in October last year and then against Sri Lanka in November. Oddly enough, the World Cup is to be staged on the subcontinent this year! When you’re playing in that area of the world, it is a well-known fact that you need a left arm spinner. Instead, selectors have gone with a guy who averaged 65 in the Indian test series, 100 in the Indian ODI series, and didn’t take a wicket in the Sri Lankan series! Hauritz’s recent injury, dislocating his shoulder in his comeback game, has quite possibly given Doherty another chance.
Another player originally overlooked, is Shaun Marsh. An amazing, left-handed opening batsman for Western Australia, has been is fine form this season. Yet, he has only been given a chance to play, when Michael Hussey tore his hamstring off the bone. Marsh made the most of his first opportunity, smashing 110 against England in game 2 of the 7 match ODI series. But if Hussey is fit for the World Cup, where does this leave Marsh?
A third injury in the Hobart ODI for Australia was to South Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait. Tait’s injury prone career continues to hamper him, this time straining his groin whilst bowling. Time and time again, Tait has shown that his body cannot handle anything more than Twenty 20 cricket. And with every injury, it creates an opportunity. So perhaps Peter Siddle will be the man to replace Tait. The only Australian bowler in the Ashes to show any sort of mental strength, fight, grit and determination. Is there something I’m missing? With Brett Lee in, it just proves that they’re going for experience over youth. Australia will never improve if it continues to have this attitude.
Game 3 of the ODI series against England has 2 players who are not named in the 15 man squad for the World Cup. This issue would never occur if it wasn’t for the ICC regulations of having to name, firstly, a 30 man squad late last year, and now, a 15 man squad , 5 weeks before the tournament begins! What is the need for a squad? Obviously injuries and form are going to change the team from game to game. It is a rare thing nowadays to see an unchanged lineup from one game to the next.
And then we have Aaron Finch. This man has been in good form for both Victoria and Australia, yet, the selectors hands are tied now, because they didn’t even pick him in the 30 man squad, so they couldn’t pick him in the 15! I don’t know how he could not have made the top 30 players in Australia! But, as we have come to realise, we should not be surprised by any selections with the Australian selectors.
Finally, there’s Brad Hodge. One of the best batsman in the world. He has proven, time and time again, that he can consistently perform in state cricket, yet once again, he has been overlooked. In every other selection for this squad, age and experience has been the winning criteria, but with Hodge, it seems as though there is a hidden reason for his omission. Something that nobody is prepared to talk about. There have been rumours of physical altercations between Hodge and Ponting, but probably only the selectors know the real reason for what is probably the biggest mistake in all of the selections. Surely Hodge is better than Ponting, Clarke and Hussey in the last year?
For Australia to improve, we must rebuild from the bottom. Start again and go through a few years of losing. Now is the perfect time, with Test series against the lower ranked nations coming up after the World Cup. It will be pointless playing the likes of Ponting, Hussey, Lee, Haddin and Clarke in these series. The experience of chosing young players will be invaluable. Khawaja, Hughes, Finch, White, Ferguson, Marsh and Pattison, just to name a few.
It really is time for something to be done, as far as the selection panel goes, in Australian cricket. Andrew Hilditch has made some terrible errors and needs to be sacked! His selections have killed off any chance of Australia winning the world cup. I’m sure we’ll make the quarter finals, and perhaps be lucky with a win or 2 to make the Semi or even the Final. But it would be a miracle if Australia were to go all the way and win their 4th World Cup in a row. A couple of weeks ago I would’ve said we were a chance, but now, for myself, and millions of other Australians, the dream is over. Yes, I have given up before the tournament has even begun, but I think my thoughts are justified. Politics in cricket are not just in India! I dream of one day seeing cricket teams where the best XI are playing against the best XI, but I fear that this will never happen, because there is too much greed in the world.